US Catholic Faith in Real Life

USC Book Club: A History of the Popes

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A History of the Popes:From Peter to the Present

By John W. O'Malley, S.J.

Review: "He would have been an ideal pope if he had had the slightest interest in religion," wrote a 17th-century historian of one of the preceding century's popes. With a twinkle in his eye, eminent church historian John W. O'Malley, S.J. walks the reader through this dizzying roster: Popes with mistresses and multiple children, who nevertheless lived exemplary lives once they were elected. One pope who had the body of his predecessor dug up, placed on a throne in his robes, and put on trial for various crimes. Popes who condemned kneeling at Mass or the separation of church and state. Popes who stood down communism and popes imprisoned for years on end.

In this whirlwind tour of the corridors of church power, O'Malley also takes care to highlight the saintly figures of various eras who had far more influence on the faith than many popes had.—Cathy O'Connell-Cahill, Senior Editor, U.S. CATHOLIC

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